Accountability: \ə-ˌkau̇n-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ (n) - an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one's actions [Merriam-Webster's Dictionary]
I read the word accountability all the time in blog posts about weight loss. Many people use their blog as a way to stay accountable for what they did/did not eat and how much they did/did not exercise.
For the most part, accountability has simply been reflected as - I ate X, I wrote it down/acknowledged it. Therefore, I have made myself accountable.
What I don't understand in statements like that is - Where is the responsibility? More importantly, what are the consequences?
Simply writing something down or admitting that something 'wrong' has been done is not enough, especially when the action goes completely against what is needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Being accountable means that there have to be consequences for actions. Otherwise, it's just words on a page; once that page is turned, those words are often forgotten. Then all of a sudden there is the big question of - How did I get here? Why hasn't my plan worked?
It's usually because there were no consequences.
I spent quite a bit of time tracking my food - weighing/measuring/obsessively taking notes of what I ate. Sometimes I ate food that wasn't bad for me. I felt like shit having to write that down -- but more than just writing it down, I told myself that if I went over my limits, then there would be consequences.
Going over my calorie limit meant doing an extra X minutes at the gym; eating a certain type of food meant doing 100 jumping jacks, etc.
Of course there was no one to enforce these consequences on me, but I guess being honest with oneself is just part of being an adult.
I hated the consequences. I found it so much easier to just NOT eat something that was bad for me or eat too much. I think that's how my approach to food changed, and of course, it's all been to my benefit.
Did I falter? Of course I did. Were there consequences - more often than not.
The idea of responsibility and consequences needs to go hand in hand with accountability. It's not just about saying what you did, it's about taking action about it.
One burger = 500 sit-ups
One soda = 100 jumping jacks
You've got to do something about the choices that are made -- this is the same with reward. You can't reward yourself if you haven't done the work. Moreover, the reward should definitely NOT be food, especially when you're trying to lose weight. There are so many other things that can bring joy and happiness -- and before you start thinking about how expensive those other types of rewards are -- just think of how costly it is to be eating junk food and not exercising.
For the past week, I've been weighing myself every morning. I just want to see the number keep going down, even if it's by 1 gram. I know that weight varies on a daily basis. I'm not doing this to obsess over the number. I'm doing it because I want to be more aware of my body - what I'm eating and how it's having an impact.
If the number goes up, I have to ask myself:
- What did I eat the following night?
Sometimes I've eaten right, but I've still gained a few grams. I know that some foods, like hummus, sit really heavily in my stomach. What do I do, I don't eat it at night anymore. If I want hummus, I'll have it during the day.
Sometimes, however, the weight gain might be because I've had something unhealthy to eat. I'm glad to say that hasn't happened over this past week. However, I know that if I did eat unhealthily, it will show. Even if for some reason it doesn't show on the scale, it'll show in my energy level, my sleep pattern, or somewhere.
I guess that's the point -- whether you write it down or not, whether you are really 'accountable' or not, your body will reveal the truth.